Wednesday, September 10, 2014

home is a fire

What's your name? Where are you from? What are you studying? I wish I could count how many times I have asked and BEEN asked those three questions in my collegiate career. I wouldn't be surprised if it reaches the thousand range by the time I leave BYU. I went to my new singles ward last Sunday. After an hour of socializing I could not handle one more awkward handshake, one more awkward conversation with a recent returned missionary and I could NOT stand the "where are you from" question one more time. 

Name? Not that hard. I'm Lauren Smith. Most common last name in the US, it's all pretty easy to spell with some pronunciation troubles in the first name. (Loh-ren, not Lah-ren). But we can breeze past this question quickly enough. 

Major? Meh, sometimes I say Communications and then people think business. Sometimes I say Journalism. Sometimes I say Communications with an emphasis in Journalism. Sometimes I say Journalism in the Communications program. I like to shake things up. Generally this question is responded with some slightly bewildered looks, some "Oh you don't hear that very often!"'s and some "So is journalism going to be obsolete in 5 years?"'s. 

The where are you from question, though. This is a struggle. I have hated saying I'm from Utah ever since I moved to Springville in 2001. And really, I love Springville. It's home in more ways than it's not. But I grew up in Wisconsin. Minnesota. It's Minnesota. I realize that this post will probably just open a can of worms with a few select friends of mine who think it's funny to try and convince people I'm from Wisconsin. *COUGH JULIE CLINGO COUGH* Let the record show: I'm not from Wisconsin. I'm from MINNESOTA. For realsies, I was born there and my family spent 20 years there. The relationships and friendships that my family and I have from there are among the most precious friendships that we could ever ask for. My heart is with Minnesota. 
These are all around '97ish besides the 2nd one which was taken in 2001 right before we moved

So here are my response options:
-Option 1 is just to say Minnesota. I mean, I was born there and technically spent longer there than Springville. But I have come to the conclusion that I can't really respond Minnesota just by itself. It's been over 10 years since I lived there. I'll be real. 

-Option 2 is just to say Springville. Generally this works out okay for me, tbh. I know a lot of people from Springville. I know every back road to Reams and twenty different ways to get to Mapleton. But then two things could happen (and both have happened to me) 

1---The person asking me ends up being from Minnesota. I say "woahhh where?" And they say "Oh, Twin cities ish." "No where?." "Ah you probably won't know but Minnetonka." "No way, I grew up in Eden Prairie, do you know so and so?" "Yeah! Wait I thought you said you were from Springville..." 

2---"Oh did you go to Springville High? What year did you graduate?" "Well actually I was only there my freshman and sophomore year." "Oh?" "Yeah I mean I would have graduated in 2010 but then I moved." "Oh where did you move to?" "Tahiti." "Wait whuuuuu?" 

So generally this question is responded differently every time. My go-to is "Grew up in Minnesota, moved to Springville when I was 11 and my family is there now." But either way it turns the conversation complicated. 

Life's tough, guys. 

Anyway, I visited Minnesota just a few weeks ago to see my best big brother Adam. And, I kid you not, I have only felt that good stepping off an airplane one other time in my life and that was the last time I visited Minnesota when I was 14. It FEELS like home. The air is different. Minnesota nice. Target. Lakes. Trees. Mall of America. Downtown. Great parks. Twins games and the Target field. GREEN. Target. Good eating. So many friendly and happy people. Apples. Music. The snow gets tedious but it sure is pretty. Minnesoooota accents dontcha know aboot that? Also, Target? 

Back to those pictures up there briefly. Besides the part where I'm super cute (I know, right?) there's something about them that captures a lot of my love for both Minnesota and my childhood. There is something safe and special preserved there. It's just... happy. Happy in a place I loved with great friends, a great school, a great neighborhood, and great snow. I remember my parents telling me that we were going to move to Utah and despite the great prospect of being close to my then newly-wed sister and brother and law, I was devastated to leave. I wasn't just leaving behind a place I loved, but a childhood bliss that could never be equaled in a different location.

I may have more connection to Springville. I may know more people and know the town better and my family might live there now. But there is something that I just FEEL about Minnesota. I love it so much. My heart is there, and I re-realized that this summer. 
Nothing without my A Smith as my tour guide and fellow WNBA fan (not really. We just went to a game. And that MVP Maya Moore chick was pretty awesome)
 Yupp. Same swing set.

But all that emotion/feelings stuff isn't very easy to convey in response to a four-word question, you feel me?

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Don't I look like such a sister missionary? Probably because, OH WAIT, I was one. Two years ago I went into the MTC. That realization hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday and it was weird. The whole mission thing seems like such a dream - like it never happened. There are, of course, tangible evidences for having served a mission. I speak Japanese now. I'm super mature now (obvi). I'm nowhere close to graduating from college even though I started 4 years ago. My pictures on Facebook suddenly switch from short-hair Lauren to long-hair Lauren (NEW ALTERNATIVE TO EXTENSIONS: just disappear to Japan for a year and a half) (Also, I miss my short hair a lil bit but that's neither here nor there). Things like this.

September 5, 2012 feels like a lifetime ago. I'm so different from the person I was then - for better and for worse. I look at these pictures from the beginning of my mission and I'm just like who IS that? And how can I look more like her because she's skinnier than I am! But seriously. It's crazy how much things change over the space of a mission - besides your weight. Anyway, I remember that first day pretty clearly, but it was entertaining to go back and read about it. Here are some first impressions of the MTC according to my beloved journal Theodore (yes, I name my journals. Haters gon hate).

Well I'm in the MTC now. Here's what's up:
  • Elders are really young.
  • I don't speak Japanese. At all.
  • Gym orientation videos are awesome.
  • Cannon center food...
  • I forgot a towel
  • We sang Called to Serve today. Let the tally begin.
  • I got lost once.
  • And we forgot our scriptures to this one thing.
  • Don't compare yourself to anyone, Lauren, STOP IT.
  • Be grateful for diversity.
  • There aren't enough hangers.
  • We did an activity with actor-investigators. I mock everyone silently for their naiveté but I don't know what I'm doing either. (obviously I'm supes humble)
  • I keep wanting to speak French.
  • I had a 19-year-old call me out when I said "yessir." He said, "actually, you need to call me Elder." PLEASE.
  • This is going to be hard.
  • I met really cool people today including my companion, Sister Clingo (Julie from Springville whom I had met before), my roommates Sister Peterson and Sister Silva, the one chick who showed me around, and Sister Buhler who is also going to Fukuoka.
  • I'm exhausted.
  • I hope I can wake up tomorrow.
September 6, 2012
I feel like I've been awake for three days.

...Very tired.

...Very very tired.

Hahaha. I probably said the word "tired" like sixteen more times in that second entry. I'm glad that future Lauren couldn't tell MTC Lauren that the fatigue would never go away because I might have gone home right then. 

It's really funny to see missionaries now go through the same things. It all comes back full circle, or something. Yes, I am working at the MTC. Yes, another day I can write about how that's going it's great. Along with the fatigue, I remember the Japanese - which is probably the number one topic of conversation with my missionaries now. I remember our second day having a teacher try and get us to sing from the hymn book - which is all written in Japanese stuff likeあいうえお. I'm looking at this like, "really, you want me to sing right now?" And then they just Japanese at me and I'm like "Dood I English." So then they say, "look it up in the dictionary if you don't understand." And I'm like, "HOW THIS IS CHICKEN SCRATCH NOT A LANGUAGE." "Just look it up! You know!" "No... I don't know." So then they'd kinda try and show me the Japanese alphabet system thing and I'm still just like "This means nothing to me. It's just squiggles. ABC, that's an alphabet." 

I also remember just feeling different. The MTC was a little spiritual bubble. I learned a lot. I loved being spiritually nourished every day. I loved feeling like I was becoming a better person. 

More than anything, though, the most tangible evidence - and the thing I'm most grateful for - of this whole experience is the relationships I developed.

I met a lot of people over that year and a half. But there will always be something special about this first group that I knew in the MTC. Two years ago I met these great people. Two years later and my life wouldn't be the same without them. ❤ 

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Oh. Hello there, internets. It's been a while.

I turned 23 recently. And by recently I mean two months ago. It's kind of a blah age to turn. I mean Jimmy Eat World wrote a song about it once, so there must be something to it. But other ages have more... presence? I dunno. 21 or 24 just sound like they know more what they're doing. Anyway, with all this growing up I've been doing, I've had a lot of thoughts buzzing around that I've wanted to write about. You know, wisdom-gaining and stuff.

Do you wanna know how many posts I have going on in my drafts folder right now? I don't want to know either but IT'S 14, GUYS. At first they were posts that actually had a point, i.e. "GOBLIN VALLEY" or "JAPANESE SUX" or "I GOT A NEW JOB" or "SCHOOL HURT ME" and then they all just digress to "SORRY I HAVEN'T IN FOREVER" or "WHOOPS IT'S BEEN" or "SORRY" and then just to "................"

Guys let me just say real quick I WROTE IN MY JOURNAL EVERY SINGLE DAY ON MY MISSION. Every day. All the days. I never skipped. I have five huge journals full of dumb musings that I treasure more than anything else from my mission. Want to know how much I've written since I've come home? Yeah, like two pages. Anyway, this whole life-documentation/blogging/i-write-for-fun/journaling/i'm-going-to-write-for-my-career thing just isn't flying for me right now.

But why isn't it? Sure, I've been busy. I was working two jobs, I went on trips, I had a boyfriend, I did school, I... slept sometimes (?), and I had a lot of, like, TV to watch. Friends isn't just going to watch itself, ammiright? But that isn't all that's kept me from writing.

I had a conversation this summer about dreams. I was asked what was stopping me from going after a career in writing. Why not start now? I've thought about this a great deal since. What stops us from doing what we want to do? We do what we have to do, and we do what is easy to do. We need to make money so we work. We need pleasure so we watch movies, spend time with friends, eat good food, because that's easy. But when it comes to things that stretch us, develop our character and push us to be something more, there's a barrier.

It all comes back to fear. Fear and failure. Fear of putting yourself out there. What if I write something and no one likes it? What if I try hard in school but I still fail? What if I fall in love and they don't want me? What if I sell my soul to basketball but I still don't make the team? What if I get that really great job I want but I just can't cut it?

If I keep swimming in mediocrity - doing things I enjoy but never stepping out of my comfort zone - I will remain content, and I won't run the risk of falling too hard. But if I never reach high, then... I won't go anywhere.

Okay, maybe another reason why I don't write as much as I should is because I end up getting too carried away and write way more than I originally intended. Original draft: "Guyz I suck at writing I'm gonna do better now k bye stay tuned xoxo" And then here we are 8 paragraphs later. I really need to learn how to turn the wordiness level down a few notches sometimes.

But with a new semester around the corner and an itch to do better at life, I'm here telling fear to back DOWN and let me try and stretch myself to be something more. I'm going to make 23 an age worth writing about. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


How I Met Your Mother ended two days ago. I, like many many others who blew up Twitter, have mixed feelings about the way they ended the show. At first, I was like, "YEAH!" and then I was like crying in my pillow, and then I was like, "Huh?" and then I was like, "Hey there!" and then I was like "awwww" and then I was like crying again, and then I was like "WHAT??" and then I was like, "Oh." Man, I haven't thought about a finale this much since Lost.

Watch out, there are spoilers for those who haven't seen the finale yet.

Everyone knows that, despite the title, this show was never about the mother at all. We weren't introduced to her until the final season. We didn't learn her name until the final five minutes of a 9-year series. No, as many others have said, this is a story about a group of friends.

Sure, I don't understand why they spent an entire season on a wedding only to have Robin and Barney divorce three years after. Sure, I hated watching Barney regress to old habits... as an old man and oh boy that's just disgusting. Sure, it was sad to watch Robin pull back and miss all the big moments. Sure, I hated how we hardly got to see Ted and Tracy interact at all. Sure, I was kind of sad that Tracy was actually DEAD. But I'm not hung up on those things.

Maybe a little.

These are the reasons the finale worked:

1. It's a throwback to the pilot. "That's how I met your Aunt Robin." What's a twist in the beginning is a twist in the end.

2. It's ambitious. I mean, you gotta hand it to Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. Despite our initial anger, we all know that we couldn't have been satisfied with some fairy-tale perfect ending with Ted and the Mother because that would have been boring. No, this emotional finale (two marriages, five births, a divorce, a death) goes out with a bang. And I respect that.

3. Marshall and Lily. They give us all hope in marriage. Three kids and Judge Fudge Supreme later, they're still working together as a team.

4. The scene under the yellow umbrella. Greatest scene in the finale. Again, I wished I saw their relationship more, but there were sure a lot of sparks under that umbrella. And Cristin Milioti is perfect.

5. Barney and his daughter. So maybe Barney learned to love after all. Even if no one really cares about #31. It got me crying all over again.

6. The show was always about Robin. I loved Robin and Barney together as much as anyone (don't get me started on how great that proposal was). I loved how Barney changed and became a better person. And through their relationship and marriage I loved how Robin learned to love and care for someone. But let's be honest. This goes back to the pilot. Ted has always been in love with Robin. And Robin is finally in a place to make Ted happy.

7. Ted ended up happy. This is the biggest reason why I loved the finale. Have you met Ted? He's the hopeless romantic, the heart of the show, and for nine years we've watched his heart get broken over and over again in his search for true love. And he found it. He found it in Tracy. He found it in Robin. He found it in his children.

8. That blue french horn. I mean come on. It's awesome.

I learned a lot of things from How I Met Your Mother. I learned never to get in a slap bet. I learned that you're never too old for laser tag. I learned that you need to work for your relationships. I learned that nothing good ever happens after 2 am. I learned that Star Wars can apply to any conversation at any time. I learned that the 500 miles song is the greatest song for road trips and it only gets better after hearing it 500 times. I learned that high five-ing never goes out of style. I learned to follow my dreams but also accept that life happens sometimes. I learned that Canada jokes are always funny. I learned that nothing is more important than looking out for your friends. I learned that you can fall in love more than once.

It's impossible for everyone to be completely satisfied with the end of a series. But you can still be satisfied with the series as a whole. And this show will stick with me for a while. Good bye Barney, Robin, Marshall, Lily, and Ted. I love you guys.

Also, how HIMYM got me through finals week.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

greater canyonlands

I've gushed my heart out over Southern Utah before. I went to the Canyonlands and Moab this same time two years ago. I gushed some more when I went to Zion. I've got the feels for the red rock. Seriously, the second I set foot on SoUte soil and breath in SoUte air my heart goes pitter patter and I feel at home. It was my first time in a tent, smelling like campfire, driving for longer than an hour, packing a sleeping bag, hiking, stuffing my face with Cheez Its, jamming to Wine Red with SarKar, talking about environmental issues and deeper things, and getting sunburned in a YEAR AND A HALF.

On that note: all of my RM struggles, all of my woes, it's all fine. Every RM can benefit some time in nature. Because being surrounded by beautiful things and good people only can do good. I'm grateful to be alive and to experience all of the things that I do. Because it's all pretty great.

Monday, March 31, 2014

other shocks: social things and stuff.

What's the first thing you do when you get off your mission?  You check Facebook. Of course you do. You check it. 
Not bad for a year and a half?

Anyway. Coming back to a world of technology is crazy stuff. So much has changed! So much politics! So much selfies! So much teenage angst! So much meme! 

But this meme I saw the other day pretty much covers it all:

Without warning, all your friends start getting engaged and having babies…

And Facebook becomes a torture device.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

other shocks: body and weight and stuff

So you wake up everyday at 6:30, right? The time from 6:30-7:00 is designated as exercise time. Yeah. That's what they say.

Okay okay okay. I tried my best with the exercise thing. I went a transfer where I ran almost every morning even waking up at 6:15 sometimes. But in order for that to happen, you need a companion who is equally as dedicated to fitness as you. The whole you-don't-leave-your-companion-thing.

Otherwise, morning exercise is somewhat of a joke.

The alarm goes off. You roll over on your futon. You "pray." (You take a nap with God on the watch). Ten minutes later you flip back onto your back. You "stretch." You justify chilling on your back in a "star position" (my favorite. I love the star stretch) by lying to yourself that you're stretching and this is really going to help give you the energy you need for the day.

And then with the five minutes remaining, you do some crunches or something.

Wow. Hey there. Stop the hate. I love exercise. I love it so much. Everyone knows that Lauren loves running and basketball and karate and stuff. When I was in the MTC, life was great because I had a gym to work out in for an hour every day and it was awesome. But, well, with just a half hour at 6:30... it's hard to make the best use of the time. There are too many variables. Companion, time limit, early hour, too cold, too hot, etc.

The times that I did take exercise seriously on the mission (which, I did my best, was probably more often than not) were obviously better days than others.

BUT IT STILL TOOK ITS TOLL. I won't tell you how much weight I may or may not have gained. It's fine.

Needless to say. Fitting into skinny jeans again has been another... fun adjustment. I don't look like I used to. But it's nice to get back to working out hardcore. It all comes with the territory of RM-woe-hood.